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Do you still use your home TENS unit?

Kris-NYKKris-NY Posts: 2,207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Pain Management
I think we have all used these units in PT but I know some have home units. I was wondering if the people who have home units are still using them and how effective they feel they are in pain management? Do you think they work better for muscle pain or nerve pain?

I see my neurologist on Monday and have been thinking of bringing this up. But I just don't know enough about how it works and if it would be worth asking for.


  • Yes, I use my TENS unit all the time.

    For me, it works best on my muscle pain and also my right knee. I generally have it going on my thoracic area, but will move it to my right knee and lumbar area too.

    I tried it once on the nerve pain in my legs. Didn't like that feeling at all, but each of us are different.

    Good luck!

  • It stops some pain or distracts me from it while it's on but I can't wear it too long it like more than a half hour it just irritates my back. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • No, it didn't really do anything for my worst pain- the super sharp nerve pain near L2, or the deep bone pain. So I gave it up.

  • Kris,

    I have a TENS unit installed into a lumbar belt. And I also have and use my dual unit which is TENS/EMS so I can cover nerve and muscle issues. I've been using mine at home for years - PT is where I first learned of them, and it went from there. :)

    For me, many times these tools do aid in pain relief.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda whats the difference between tens and ems? Do they work at the same time? I'd like to have as much info as possible before I see the doc on Monday.
  • If you haven't left on your r/v trip, I would like to know the difference, I considered asking p/t or pm about them. Haven't gotten any tens treatment in p/t yet......waiting, usta get it pre op..... not now, gotta wait they say. Any one know if post fusion tens Is a no no for a while?



  • Kris, Virginia,

    No problem. The TENS(Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) is what most of us use for our spine issues. The EMS(Electrical Muscle Stimulator) is for re-educating muscles, reducing spasms, increasing blood flow, helping with some atrophy issues. There were some other things, but they weren't really spiney things, so I flushed them out of the brain! (G)

    I screwed up once and used my TENS on my thigh muscle and went into spasm hell! (G) I have 10 programs for each on my unit. You can switch back and forth between them, but since it's in one unit (in my case), only one at a time.

    The feeling is deeper with the EMS, but they both have adjustable pulse, width and band rates, or you can use pre-programed settings. Hope that helps ladies!! :)

    Oh, and Virginia, since the electrodes aren't going on the fusion areas, it shouldn't be a problem. Check with your doctor as some are different. Mine was happy that I was using mine from the get go, and encouraged me to use it after I got home from the hospital. Just keep in mind you need to place the electrodes in the right places, and not overdue the settings on the TENS, as post fusion that's all you need right?...more spasms? (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow I always assumed that it was all the same. I must have had the EMS in PT since they were loosening up the muscles before exercise. I don't think I've ever had the TENS then. I'm definately going to ask about this.

  • I have one as well. When I first got it, I used it all the time, but I have to admit, it sat in it's case on my coffee table shoved to the back for a while collecting dust. I have been using it again though the past couple of months. I find it is good for the muscle pain. Like Tammy, I once tried it on my leg where I have a lot of nerve pain, and I nearly shot through the roof! Otherwise, on my neck/shoulder blade area, it helps with the spasms. I find the sensation comforting as well, and if I'm lucky, I might even catch a nap while it's on!
    Good luck, hope you find one, if you do, your PT can show you the best place to position the leads.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Yes, tens feels much different! Tens is supposed to work by interfering with the nerve signals to the brain, reducing the amount of felt pain.

    You may have gotten either tens OR ems at the PT, depending on what they decided you needed. If you had atrophy problems, maybe EMS. If you had pain problems, probably TENS.

    I got a TENS unit FROM my PT at Kaiser for $10. :)

    That was the insured price, of course.
  • Kris,

    When you are on a TENS treatment, you're not suppose to have the setting so high as to cause your muscle to contract. Conversely, the EMS by its nature 'needs' to be able to contract and release the muscles to exercise, re-educate the muscle, get the blood flowing etc. The TENS also only goes to the surface nerves for the most part, and the EMS muscle groups assigned.

    When I use to go to my Chiropractor, he would use the EMS on my thoracic, and the TENS on the lumbar. Like HB said, totally different feelings with them. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • JatcoJJatco CanadaPosts: 22
    edited 03/22/2016 - 1:49 PM
    Glad I Searched.. I was wondering if a TENS unit would be of benefit in my recovery process, re Nerve regrowth and muscle pain.  Guess it will...
    Is there a good time to use the machine..?? - I'm 6 weeks post op..!!
  • HautemessHautemess San DiegoPosts: 24
    Mine was a nice distraction for my pain before surgery. Also useful for menstrual cramps; especially when you're not allowed to take Motrin two weeks before a procedure you're scheduled for. 
  • Hi Thomas

    I hope you feel you are improving each day. I have a tens unit I don't like it on the areas of my body that hurt due to nerve pain but it does help for my stiffness and muscle pain. I bought one for myself to use at home. I would ask the Doctor if I was you to make sure it is alright with them and they can may pinpoint where to use it, what strength and how long. I know I used mine on my upper back too strong and it increased the pain. Whatever we do it is always worth giving it a try with the Doctors ok.

    I wish you the best and hope you find relief soon.


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